A Teller Of Tales


Direct Answers - Column for the week of June 10, 2002

I told my daughter I didn't think my daughter-in-law paid enough attention to her oldest son, 8. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is on Ritalin, and lately has been kicking and hitting little kids.

My daughter and I had a falling out, and she told my daughter-in-law what I said. My daughter-in-law was furious. I tried to explain that I did not call her a bad mother. Well, you can imagine what happened. We haven't spoken in a week. Do I let time take care of this, or do I send her the letter I wrote trying to explain myself?

I am very family oriented and, most of the time, pretty direct. Probably to a fault. My daughter and I are not speaking either, so at this point I am estranged from both girls, and my four grandsons. By the way, I am 57 and divorced.

Selma

Selma, you shouldn't be surprised by your daughter's actions. As she grew up, how many times did she watch you make statements about others when they were not around? This time the person not present happened to be you. You fashioned your own punishment.

The statement you made about your daughter-in-law accomplished nothing. It was nothing but criticism. It wasn't said to aid or assist. She is dealing with a difficult problem which medication helps but doesn't cure, and you offered no solution.

Now you are estranged from your daughter, daughter-in-law, their husbands, and your grandchildren. Is this what you want? Doesn't it indicate a need to look within yourself for a solution? Someday you may finally say something that an apology won't fix.

It is never too late to admit we have more to learn. If family is what you value, then redefine your role within the family. Your role is not to speak whatever thought crosses your mind. Your role is to love, care, and help. If what you are thinking doesn't do one of those three things, don't say it or do it.

It will be easier to get past this if the other family members believe you are going to make a true change. But if you apologize and don't change, that will make your apology worthless. The others will say, "She wasn't really sorry. She's at it again."

Revise the letter to your daughter-in-law, then send it. Strive to be the person admired by your family as the one they can trust to help them when possible, the one who maintains a confidence when she can't help, and the one who loves them always.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, "If you can't say anything good about someone, sit right here beside me." It's a clever line, and criticism makes us feel superior to others, but there is always a price to be paid.

Wayne & Tamara

Backlash

I'm 17 and have been going out with my girlfriend for five months. She has a lot of male friends, about eight close ones, and she is very outgoing. I completely trust her, but I get really mad when I see her talking to other guys.

My jealousy is tearing our relationship apart, and we're going to break up for a couple of days so she can think about things. I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her, but I need help fast.

Steve

Steve, jealousy is about ownership and control, snooping and suspicion. It has nothing to do with love. You cannot get love by grasping too tightly. The only way you can get it is by giving another the opportunity and freedom to show they love you.

Jealousy puts a damper on a relationship from both directions. One grasps, the other wants to flee. Grasping accuses another of doing something wrong, and they will seek to escape. When someone loves you, a tight grasp is not required.

Wayne & Tamara

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com" target="_new">www.WayneAndTamara.com.

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.


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